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the Complete Review
the complete review - poetry / fiction



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To purchase Curl

Title: Curl
Author: T.O.Bobe
Genre: Fiction
Written: 1999 (Eng. 2019)
Length: 72 pages
Original in: Romanian
Availability: Curl - US
Curl - UK
Curl - Canada
in Zentrifuge - Deutschland
  • Romanian title: Bucla
  • Translated and with an Afterword by Sean Cotter

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Our Assessment:

B : good, creative fun

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Curl is a mix of poetry and prose, presented in short chapters/pieces, featuring a barber, Mr.Gică -- "the world's greatest barber". He is completely devoted to his craft -- obsessive, even, and fast: his shop has six chairs -- always full -- but he has no assistants, just going down the line, morning to night, snipping away. Apparently, he never even sleeps (he has pajamas, but he never wears them, only occasionally taking them out to admire them): when the barbershop closes for the night, he becomes: "the world's greatest clandestine hairstyler", coiffing six women's hair in the fanciest styles.
       Curl presents the man, his accomplishments -- Olympic medals, an impressive clientele --, and some of his dreams (to own a car -- "But not to drive" --, or how he wants to be preserved after death). He has a nemesis -- Dorel Vasilescu -- who features in a variety of the vignettes, while real-world figures feature as well, as customers or, for example, annual visitors on World Mental Health Day (when Einstein, Napoleon, and Yuri Gagarin, among others, drop by).
       Most of the pieces are short prose vignettes, in some way presenting Mr.Gică, but there are also numerous (more-obviously-)poems; some pieces build or even directly comment on others (for example, the prose-and-poem 'Barbershop Nights: An Eyewitness Account' is followed by 'What the Pagodas Dreamed in the Poem "Barbershop Nights"').
       For all his expertise and genius, there's a melancholy feel to Mr.Gică's single-minded focus, a pervasive loneliness that's nicely conveyed by Bobe. The mock-seriousness ("Hair is humanity's greatest enemy") is kept at just the right pitch -- and Mr.Gică's fundamental sadness well-conveyed:

I killed the apprentices,
because they wanted to repeat that which cannot be repeated,
that is, the ephemeral.
       Mr.Gică faces his loneliness, and also faces mortality, leaving him wondering about a life spent doing nothing else -- and worried that, that too, is his fate ever after; as one of the loveliest lines has it: "Death doesn't scare me. Its barbershop does."
       Presented in a typically lovely little pocket-sized edition from Wakefield Press, and with a helpful Afterword by translator Sean Cotter that gives some biographical information about the author, as well as offering some interesting observations about the translation itself, Curl is an appealing little work.

- M.A.Orthofer, 19 March 2019

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Curl: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Romanian author T.O.Bobe (actually: Teodor Dobrin) was born in 1969.

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© 2019-2021 the complete review

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